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Hammer time for 'Thor'

Published May 12. 2011 05:01PM

"Thor," the latest 3D comic-book to cinema extravaganza, is as mono-syllabic as its title.

And we're not only referring to the dialogue, which rarely ventures past more than two syllables.

"Thor" is not a bore. Thor the character is boring, which is odd. He is, after all, the God of Thunder.

Chris Hemsworth, sure to be a huge star post-"Thor," is a combination of Brad Pitt boyish good looks; Arnold Schwarzenegger physique and Pierce Brosnan reserve.

As directed by Kenneth "I am the cinema's greatest interpreter of Shakespeare" Brannagh, "Thor" is brash, sometimes humorous and dark, dark, dark.

The darkness cometh courtesy of the 3D effects. Battle scenes with the Frost Giants take place in a crystal cave with the lighting level of a coal mine.

Do you need to spend the extra money to see "Thor" in 3D? While there are a few rushing-at-you effects, 3D is unnecessary in two-character and several-character dialogue scenes. It seems that the 3D effects were added after scenes were filmed.

"Thor" picks up where "Iron Man II" left off. Credit Readers Anonymous members will remember the bonus payoff by staying to the very end of "Iron Man II" when Thor's Hammer is shown.

The sword-in-the-stone theme plays prominently in "Thor." So does the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, led by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) with a cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, who arrive to investigate when Thor's Hammer lands in the New Mexico dessert, and no one can dislodge it.

"Thor," with a screenplay by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (both, "Agent Cody Banks") from a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich, from the Marvel Comic book by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby, has elements of "Star Wars" (the planet Asgard), "Men in Black" (government agents) and "Transformers" (the battle robots).

Brannagh (director, Shakespeare's "As You Like It," "Hamlet," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Henry V") seems to relish the sword and dagger meets cloak and dagger storyline. The dialogue scenes are serviceable, as are the villains. Much of the film was lensed by second-unit directors and put together by computer-generated imagery artists.

Perhaps the lure for Brannah, other than having a No. 1 movie, was working with Anthony Hopkins, who plays Odin, Thor's father. Hopkins, who narrates the opening scenes, is one of the movie's pluses.

Hemsworth (George Kirk, "Star Trek," 2009) is likeable enough. He doesn't embarrass himself, given the speechifying dialogue. Portman is equally OK as a nerdy scientist.

Stellan Skarsgard provides the ballast as Erik Selvig, a scientist and father figure. Kat Dennings is a goofy intern. As Thor's brother, Loki, Tom Hiddleston makes a slight impression. Stan Lee has a cameo as a tow truck driver.

"Thor" will be of interest to the so-called fan boys and girls whose dream vacation is to attend Comic Con International, the annual San Diego, Calif., gathering where the latest in pop culture is previewed for fans and industry reps.

"Thor," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13); Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama; Run Time: 1 hr. 54 min.; Distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Stay to the very end of "Thor" and, after the final title, "Thor will return in The Avengers," set for release in 2012, there's a several-minutes scene with Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Box Office, May 6: "Thor" put the hammer down, opening at No. 1, with $66 million, dropping "Fast Five" to No. 2, with $32.5 million and $139.8 million after two weeks, and holding off "Jumping the Broom," opening way back at No. 3 with $13.7 million and "Something Borrowed," opening at No. 4, with $13.1 million.

5. "Rio," $8.2 million, $114.9 million, four weeks; 6. "Water for Elephants," $5.6 million, $41.6 million, three weeks; 7."Madea's Big Happy Family," $3.9 million, $46.8 million, three weeks; 8. "Prom," $2.4 million, $7.8 million, two weeks; 9. "Soul Surfer," $2.1 million, $36.6 million, five weeks; 10. "Hoodwinked, Too! Hood Vs. Evil," $1.8 million, $6.7 million, two weeks

Unreel, May 13:

"Bridesmaids," R: Kristen Wiig (TV's "Saturday Night Live") is chosen as maid of honor for the wedding of her best friend (Maya Rudolph).

"Priest," PG-13: A priest (Paul Bettany) tracks vampires who kidnapped his niece. Also stars Maggie Q and Christopher Plummer.

Still showing: "Jane Eyre" continues at Civic Theatre of Allentown's Theatre 514.

Read previous movie reviews at Email Paul Willistein at: and on Facebook.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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